Hindu-Muslim Done To Divert Attention: Rahul From Red Fort | Lokmarg

Hindu-Muslim Done To Divert Attention: Rahul From Red Fort

Attacking the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Centre, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said Hindu-Muslim is being done to divert attention from the real issues.

Congress MP Rahul Gandhi’s mass contacting campaign, Bharat Jodo Yatra, entered the national capital on Saturday. The party held a mega public rally in front of Red Fort.
Speaking from Red Fort, Rahul Gandhi said, “It is not Narendra Modi’s government. It is Ambani and Adani government. Hindu-Muslim is being done to divert attention from the real issues. Today degree holder youths are selling ‘pakoras’.”

Referring to Bhagwad Gita and Upanishads, he said nowhere in the Hindu texts it is written to oppress the poor.

“In Bharat Jodo Yatra, dogs also came but no one harmed them. Cow, buffaloes, pigs, all animals came. This Yatra is like our India, I have not seen any hatred or violence among people while walking 2,800 km, and I have not seen violence or hatred anywhere in the country. But when I turn on the TV, there is hatred all the time,” said the Wayanad MP.

Speaking from Red Fort, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said BJP feared the Bharat Jodo Yatra and wanted to stop the march giving the excuse of COVID.

“BJP is in fear due to Bharat Jodo Yatra and is taking the excuse of COVID. There is no COVID anywhere. Nothing happened to anyone. PM Modi himself does not wear a mask. All this is being done to create fear and break this Yatra,” Kharge said.

Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan also joined Bharat Jodo Yatra on Saturday.

Speaking from the Red Fort, Kamal Haasan said, “Many people ask me why I am here. I am here as an Indian. My father was a Congressman. I had various ideologies and started my own political party. But when it comes to the country, all political party lines have to blur. I blurred that line and came here. I stood in front of the mirror and said to myself – this is the time when the country needs me the most. Then a voice came from inside me – ‘Kamal… do not help break India, help unite.”

Bharat Jodo Yatra entered the national capital on Saturday morning. Former Congress president Sonia Gandhi joined the yatra for the first time since it started on September 7. Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi and her husband Robert Vadra also joined. This will be the last day of the yatra in this phase as it goes a nine-day break till next year.

The foot march entered Delhi from Haryana after starting from NHPC metro station, Faridabad around 6 am.

The Yatra also visited Rajghat and paid tribute to the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi.

Several MPs of different parties accompanied Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra today.

Asked about the MPs joining Bharat Jodo, Jairam Ramesh told ANI that all the party leaders were invited to join the Yatra.

“We have invited all the party leaders to join Bharat Jodo. Whoever wants to come, Nitin Gadkari wants to come, he is also welcome, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh also wants to come, and he is also welcome. (Former Vice) President Venkaiah Naidu and (former President) Ram Nath Kovind are also welcome,” he said.

Jairam Ramesh also divulged that the party is mulling starting another mass contacting campaign, ‘Haath se Haath Jodo’ from January 26.

“After this, the party will start a ‘Haath se Haath Jodo’ campaign from January 26 to March 26, which will convey the message of the Bharat Jodo Yatra to every booth and every block and the success the yatra earned in the 108 days will also be spread to every booth and block during it,” Congress leader told ANI.

The Centre has issued cautionary notes to Bharat Jodo Yatra amid the growing concerns over rising COVID cases in several countries including neighbouring China.

Earlier on Friday, Delhi Police issued a travel advisory, informing residents about route changes and traffic diversions to cater to Bharat Jodo Yatra’s Delhi leg.

“In view of the Bharat Jodo Yatra of the Indian National Congress in Delhi on December 24, 2022, traffic has been changed on various routes. Citizens are requested to avoid the affected roads and make maximum use of public transport,” the Delhi Traffic Police said.

So far, the yatra, which started from Kanyakumari on September 7, has covered parts of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra and Haryana.

It is the longest march on foot by any Indian politician in the history of India, the Congress has claimed.

With this yatra, Rahul Gandhi aims to mobilise the party cadre and unite the general public against the BJP’s “divisive politics in the country”. (ANI)

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Oppn Leaders Meet At Kharge Office

Oppn Leaders Meet At Kharge Office Ahead Of Parl Session

Ahead of the beginning of the day’s proceedings in Parliament, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge on Wednesday convened a meeting with floor leaders of opposition parties to discuss the December 9 faceoff between Indian and Chinese troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Arunachal’s Tawang sector.

On Tuesday, both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha were rocked by the issue with the Opposition staging a walkout after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh made a statement in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on the Tawang clash.
“A total of 17 parties attended today’s meeting and decided to raise the issue for discussion if not allowed it has been decided that parties will walk out from the house,” a leader who participated in the meeting told ANI.

The Opposition, the participant said, has also decided that if a discussion is not allowed, they will boycott the House.

The meeting was held in Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge’s chambers to plan the Opposition strategy on India -China tussle and other issues in the House.

Kharge on Tuesday said that the opposition staged the walkout as Singh did not give a clarification on his statement in Parliament on the reports of clashes between the Indian Army and Chinese troops.

Speaking in both Houses separately, the Defence Minister informed that the “Indian Army bravely stopped the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) PLA troops from encroaching on Indian territory, and forced them to withdraw to their posts”.

Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) parliamentary meeting also took place in the Parliament Library building today in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

Singh and National BJP president JP Nadda were also present at the meeting.

The BJP MPs gave a rousing reception to PM Modi and also congratulated the BJP state president of Gujarat CR Paatil for the historic win in the western state.

The Winter Session of the Parliament began on December 7 and will have 17 working days. (ANI)

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Oppn Leaders Meet At Kharge Office

Cong Fights Unitedly: Kharge On Victory In Himachal

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Sunday arrived in Himachal Pradesh’s Shimla to attend the oath-taking ceremony of Chief Minister-designate Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu.

Sukhu received the Congress president and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot at Sanjauli helipad.
Kharge, on the occasion, said that the party’s victory in the state Assembly polls is an example of what happens when the party fights unitedly.

“This is a victory that belongs to the people of Himachal Pradesh. This is an example of what emerges when the Congress party fights unitedly,” he told ANI.

Ashok Gehlot said that the victory of the party in the state was a new beginning for Congress and the people of the state.

“This is a new beginning for Congress as well as the people of Himachal Pradesh. Rahul Gandhi’s yatra against inflation, and unemployment, will become stronger from Himachal,” he said.

Sachin Pilot, who also arrived here, confided that Sukhu will be able to deliver the promises made during the campaign.

“I believe that Sukhu will be able to deliver all the promises given by Cong. The people of Himachal Pradesh always supported Congress. We all will work together for the development of the state,” he said.

Himachal Pradesh CM designate Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu met State Congress Chief Pratibha Virbhadra Singh at her residence.

Following the meeting, Pratibha said that it is her “prime duty” to take part in the oath-taking ceremony which will take place today afternoon.

“Why won’t I attend his oath-taking ceremony? Of course, I will go. It is my prime duty to be there with him as he takes oath as CM today,” she said.

Mukesh Agnihotri, the leader of the opposition in the outgoing Assembly, will take oath as the Deputy Chief Minister.

The oath-taking ceremony will take place at 1.30 pm on Sunday, Raj Bhavan sources told ANI.

After being chosen as the Chief Minister, the Congress leader said that he is thankful to the Congress and Gandhi family for giving him this opportunity.

Sukhu said that he is happy that despite being from an ordinary family he is going to be the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh.

“I am happy that I am going to be CM despite being from an ordinary family. I am thankful to the Congress party and the Gandhi family for giving me this opportunity. My mother never stopped me from being in politics. I have reached here today because of her blessings,” said Sukhu.

Sukhu is a grassroots politician who has risen from the ranks and has wide organisational experience in the hill state.

Sukhu was chairman of the Congress Campaign Committee for the assembly elections in which the party focused on local issues and made lucrative promises including an old pension scheme.

He will be the second chief minister from Hamirpur district after BJP’s Prem Kumar Dhumal.

Congress won the Assembly polls in the state, winning 40 seats. (ANI)

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Modi To Congress

Competition In Cong On Who Says More bad words: Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday hit back at Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge for calling him “Ravana” and said that there is a competition among Congress leaders as to who will use the most abusive words for him.

The remarks of PM Modi came after Kharge had described PM Modi as Ravana.
While addressing an election rally in Gujarat for the second phase in Kalol town of Panchmahal district in poll-bound Gujarat, the Prime Minister said, “I respect Kharge Ji. He will say what he has been told to say. Congress party doesn’t know that this is the Gujarat of Ram Bhakts In this land of Rambhakts, he was asked to call me a Ravan with 100 heads.”

PM Modi further said that Congress does not accept Lord Ram’s existence but they brought Ravan from Ramayan to abuse him.

“We know that Congress does not accept the existence of Lord Ram, and does not believe in Ayodhya’s Ram Mandir. They have a problem with Ram Setu as well. Now, this Congress party has brought Ravan from Ramayan to speak insults about me,” he said.

The Prime Minister said that he is amazed to see that none of the Congress leaders ever felt remorse or regretted the numerous cases of abuse they heaped on him.

“I am not surprised at Congress saying bad things about me. I am amazed that even after saying so many bad things, neither the Congress party nor its leaders have ever regretted it. They feel it is their right to abuse Modi and the PM of this country,” PM Modi said.

PM Modi said that Congress leaders can do anything to please one family.

“If they believed in democracy, they would have never gone to this level. They believe in one family and not democracy. They can do anything to please that one family and that family is everything to them, not democracy,” said the PM.

“There is a competition in Congress on who says more bad words for Modi…We have to teach them a lesson and the way is to press the button on Lotus on the 5th (second phase of Gujarat elections),” the prime minister said.

“The Congress should note that the more dirt it throws on me, the more the lotus will bloom,” he added.

Notably, during a poll campaigning for the Party, Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge at a rally in the Behrampura area of Ahmedabad described PM Modi as Ravana. “In all these campaigns, he (Modi) only talks about himself. ‘Don’t look at anyone else, just look at Modi and vote’… how many times do we have to see your face? How many forms do you have? Do you have 100 heads like Ravan?” Kharge had said.

The second phase of the Gujarat Assembly election is on December 5.

Meanwhile, polling for the first phase of the Gujarat Assembly election began today amid tight security arrangements.

The polling is taking place in 89 constituencies spread across 19 districts of Kutch, Saurashtra, and South Gujarat. The voter turnout was recorded to be 34.48 percent till 1 pm on Thursday.

The state has been a BJP stronghold for a long and the party has set its sights on returning to power for the seventh term. PM Modi has been Gujarat’s longest-serving chief minister from 2001 till 2014.

However, it faces a stiff electoral challenge from the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which has named Isudan Gadhvi as its chief ministerial candidate. (ANI)

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Assam Govt Launches Projects In Nalbari

Gujarat Polls: Himanta Slams Kharge’s Tea Remarks

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Monday said that dogs have a higher value in the Congress party in comparison to humans.

Sarma’s comment came as a reaction to Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge’s tea remark. Earlier on Sunday, Kharge stoked a controversy with his remark on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Kharge, while addressing a public rally at Dediapada in the tribal-dominated Narmada district of poll-bound Gujarat, said, “A person like you (PM Modi) claims to be poor. I am also poor, I am one of the untouchables. People drank your tea, nobody would’ve had my tea.”

“Then you say that you are poor and somebody abuses you. If you say it for sympathy, then people have become smarter now. If you lie once or twice, people will hear but how many times will you lie? He’s the leader of lies..,” Kharge added.

Earlier on Monday, Sarma told ANI, “Mallikarjun Kharge said, no one has tea with me. So maybe Rahul Gandhi doesn’t have tea with Kharge Ji and Congress follows such practices. Congress MP Rahul Gandhi should tweet a backdated picture in which he could be seen having tea with Mallikarjun Kharge.”

“What I feel is that dogs have a higher value in the Congress party in comparison to humans. So Mallikarjun Kharge’s comment that no one has tea with me may be partially correct,” Sarma added. Sarma addressed a press conference in Ahmedabad, the capital of the poll-bound state.

Gujarat has been a BJP stronghold for a long and the party has set its sights on returning to power for the seventh term.

In the 2017 Assembly polls, the BJP won 99 of the total 182 seats. The party has been in power in the state for the last 27 years.

However, it faces a stiff electoral challenge from the AAP, which is eyeing a big electoral footprint in the state after storming to power in Punjab.

Congress also hopes to put its best electoral foot forward to unseat the BJP.

The counting of votes for Gujarat will take place on December 8. (ANI)

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Mallikarjun Kharge To Campaign in Gujarat

AICC Chief Kharge To Campaign In Gujarat For Four Days

With the Gujarat elections round the corner and the first litmus test of Mallikarjun Kharge as Congress president, the grand old party is seeking to boost its poll prospects in the state by addressing about two dozen public meetings.

Mallikarjun Kharge has devised a strategy to take on the Bharatiya Janata party, which has been in power for over two decades, in the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Congress is gearing up by bringing some of its highest-ranked leaders to campaign in the second phase to take on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The areas which will witness polling in the second phase in Gujarat hold much importance to Congress as Saurashtra and the tribal belts have been strongholds of the party and the top leaders who will be campaigning in the second phase include Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge, former Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Lok Sabha MP Rahul Gandhi, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and a host of senior leaders.

Kharge is scheduled to campaign for two days before the first phase of the Gujarat assembly election that will take place on December 1.

Kharge will also campaign for the second phase in Gujarat on December 1 and 2, the sources said on Saturday

The Gujarat assembly polls have been declared to be conducted in two phases on December 1 and 5 before the announcement of results on December 8.

Voting for 89 assembly seats will take place in the first phase, while for the remaining 93 assembly seat voting will be held in the second phase of polling.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is also expected to join and campaign for the party in Gujarat in the second phase of polling.

“His (Rahul Gandhi) tour will however depend on a break in ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’,” they said.

It is pertinent to mention that even after the Congress has got a non-Gandhi president after 24 years in Mallikarjun Kharge and the leader, has plunged in the election campaign in poll-bound states, the dominance of the Gandhi family is visible even after a month of the change of top leader at the AICC.

Kharge’s picture is still missing from the official hoarding board of the Congress headquarters and it is yet to find a place in the rooms of the party’s key office-bearers.

This was not the case when Sonia Gandhi took the leadership role and when Rahul Gandhi became general secretary and later party chief.

Soon after he became president, Kharge started meeting leaders and workers by giving appointments at his home. He also plunged into the electoral campaign for Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat elections.

He has started meeting workers at Congress headquarters between 11 am and 1 pm without an appointment. After Rahul Gandhi resigned as party chief in 2019, this process of meetings came to a virtual standstill, party leaders said.

“Soniaji and Rahulji also used to meet but it all stopped due to the coronavirus. It has started again and people can meet without any prior appointment,” Naseer Hussain, Congress MP, and coordinator attached to Kharge told ANI on November 22.

Kharge has fully taken over but the Congress apparatus is apparently slow to react.

When Sonia became president, her photo was placed on the official board of the party headquarters at 24 Akbar Road in Delhi.

Photos of Sonia along with that of other veteran leaders were put up in the room of every Congress office-bearer at Congress headquarters.

Rahul Gandhi’s photo also made it to the rooms of AICC office-bearers soon after he was appointed general secretary.

His photo was all over the AICC after he became the party chief in 2017 and photos of other members of the Gandhi-Nehru family who have held party posts also adorned the walls.

In fact, Rahul Gandhi’s picture was replaced by that of Sonia on the official board of the party within 24 hours when she became the interim president in 2019. Photos of the two leaders were already in AICC rooms.

Nasir Hussain sought to play down the delay in putting up of Kharge’s photo.

“I have not seen where the picture has not been put up, it has been used in the posters for publicity and manifestos. Rest of the places it will also be put up soon,” he said.

The situation is likely to give ammunition to the BJP to continue attacking the Congress on “family rule”.

Though the Gandhi family has followed the protocol and has extended due courtesies to Kharge, the “Congress system” appears slow to react giving rise to various questions. (ANI)

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Rajasthan Public Service Commission (RPSC)

Sachin Pilot Targets Modi-Gehlot Chemistry, Draws Parallels With GN Azad

A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi heaped praise on Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Congress leader and former deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot termed it as a “very interesting” development that “should not be taken lightly.”

“The PM had similarly praised Ghulam Nabi Azad in Parliament. We saw what happened after that,” Pilot said.
Talking to reporters here, Pilot said, “We all witnessed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s praises during his visit to the Mangarh Dham, We all have seen similar things, earlier in the Rajya Sabha as well when the PM heaped praises on former Rajya Sabha MP Ghulam Nabi Azad on his farewell day. Everybody knows what happened after that. It is an interesting development yesterday and should not be taken lightly.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday visited Mangarh Dham in Rajasthan and shared the dias with Gehlot at the event “…When PM Modi goes abroad, he receives great honor. Because he is PM of the nation of Gandhi, where democracy is deep-rooted. When the world realizes this, they feel proud that the PM of that country is coming to them…,” Gehlot said.

Addressing the event, PM Modi recalled his days as the Chief Minister of Gujarat. “Ashok ji (Gehlot) and I had worked together as CMs. He was the most senior in our lot of CMs. Ashok ji is still one of the senior-most CMs among those who are sitting on the stage right now,” he said.

Meanwhile talking to reporters here today, Pilot also said that the time has now arrived “to take action against indiscipline” and sought action against errant MLAs of Rajasthan.

The pilot said MLAs who have been served notices should be told to file their replies. “Congress is an old party… I request the new president to take action against indiscipline,” he said.

“As far as Rajasthan is concerned, a CLP meeting called on September 25 couldn’t be held. AICC considered it a matter of indiscipline…Rules same for all. So, if indiscipline occurred and replies were given, action should be taken. I believe party chief Mallikarjun Kharge will take a decision soon,” Pilot said.

In the run-up to the nomination for Congress president election, Gehlot was forced to bow out of the process after Congress MLAs supporting Gehlot did not attend a Congress Legislature Party meeting on September 25. (ANI)

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Oppn Leaders Meet At Kharge Office

Will Give Non-BJP Govt Under Rahul’s Leadership: Kharge

In significant remarks pertaining to the party’s prime ministerial candidate for the next Lok Sabha elections, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said on Tuesday that the party “will form a non-BJP government” under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi.

Addressing a public rally in Hyderabad during Bharat Jodo Yatra, Kharge also attacked the TRS government in Telangana, saying it had extended support to some bills in parliament which were opposed by the opposition parties and it was now talking of ousting the BJP government at the Centre.
“Whenever we used to oppose any bill in Parliament, they (TRS) used to support BJP but they still say that they’ll bring a non-BJP government. If anybody has to bring a non-BJP government, it’s us who’ll form a non-BJP government under Rahul Gandhi’s leadership,” Kharge said.

Kharge, who was elected Congress president last month, had sidestepped a similar question before his elevation to the top party post.

“There is a saying ‘Bakrid mein bachenge toh Muharram mein nachenge’. First, let these elections get over and let me become president, then we’ll see,” Kharge had said when asked who would be the party’s prime ministerial face.

There have been efforts by some opposition leaders to bring together opposition parties against the BJP for the 2024 elections.

In his remarks at the Bharat Jodo Yatra, Rahul Gandhi accused the BJP and TRS of “working together” and alleged that state Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao does “drama before polls” but is in “direct line” with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“Whenever there’s any bill in Parliament, TRS supports BJP and diverts attention from Opposition issues. BJP and TRS work together. Your CM (KCR) does drama before polls but he’s in direct line with PM Modi. PM Modi gives orders to your CM on phone,” Rahul Gandhi alleged.

Telangana will face assembly polls next year. The ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti has decided to change its name to Bharat Rashtra Samithi as part of its ambitions to have a national footprint. (ANI)

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Kharge Announced To Implement Udaipur Declaration: Sachin Pilot

With Mallikarjun Kharge taking over at the helm of affairs in Congress, Sachin Pilot on Wednesday said that 50 percent of party posts would be given to party workers below 50 years of age as per Udaipur Declaration.

Sachin also reiterated that Sonia and Rahul Gandhi will always remain the leaders of the party.
Pilot, who arrived in Uttar Pradesh’s Noida earlier today, said that a message has been sent to the other parties through the election of Kharge as party president that Congress is capable of conducting free and fair elections.

“Mallikarjun Kharge has taken charge as the president of the party. It is a good sign for democracy that such a big election concluded successfully in such a large party. Congress has the ability to conduct fair elections with utmost transparency. Kharge has vast experience,” he said while speaking to the reporters.

“He has always worked as a worker of the Congress party. Sonia and Rahul Gandhi were and will always be leaders of our party, but we will fight all the challenges in front of us. We’ll start working for the upcoming elections,” he said while mentioning about the challenges in two states- Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh within this year, and then the 2024 Lok Sabha Polls.

“A message has been sent from Delhi that Congress has done something which no other party has done. Nobody knows how the BJP president is elected,” Pilot added.

Mentioning the Udaipur declaration that was adopted in May earlier this year in the three-day Chintan Shivir, Pilot said that Kharge would implement the declaration.

“The party has adopted the Udaipur declaration. Kharge Ji had announced to implement this as soon as he got elected. The party had passed a declaration with a consensus to give opportunities to the youth. The party will give 50 percent of the posts at all levels to those workers of the party who are below 50 years of age,” he said.

Soon after taking over the reins of Congress, Kharge said, “We decided at the Udaipur ‘Chintan Shivir’ to reserve 50 percent of the party posts for those below 50 years of age. We will move forward with that, with support from all of you.”

“We will defeat those who spread hatred,” he said, naming the ruling BJP and its parent body RSS as “those who want to divide India”.

Earlier today, Kharge, who succeeds Sonia Gandhi, said it was a matter of pride to carry forward the legacy of Congress.

“It’s an emotional moment for me. I want to thank Congress people for making a worker’s son, an ordinary worker, the president of Congress. It is a matter of pride to carry forward the legacy of the Congress,” he said.

The 80-year-old Congress veteran said that it was a matter of privilege and pride for him to handle the responsibility as a party that was led by leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, and Subhash Chandra Bose.

“As president, it will be my utmost duty to look after our workers. Together, we will build an India that will be enlightened, empowered, and equal for every citizen. We will uphold the Constitution of this country, respect everyone’s rights and give equal opportunities, defeat those who spread hate, and fight inflation, unemployment, and hunger,” he said. (ANI)

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Kharge Officially Takes Charge As Cong Prez

Veteran Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge on Wednesday officially took charge as the party president at the All India Congress Committee headquarters in the national capital.

Congress Central Election Authority chairman Madhusudan Mistry handed over the certificate of election to the top post.
“I hope other parties draw a lesson from the Congress and hold polls for the presidency by secret ballot,” said Mistry.

Former party president Sonia Gandhi, MP Rahul Gandhi, and the party’s General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra along with other senior leaders and MPs were present at the occasion.

Ahead of the event at the Congress headquarters today, Kharge met former prime minister Manmohan Singh at his home yesterday. This morning, he paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi at his memorial, Rajghat. He also visited memorials of former prime ministers Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, and Rajiv Gandhi, besides former deputy PM Jagjivan Ram.

Kharge, who was elected the first Congress chief outside the Nehru-Gandhi family in 24 years, has his task cut out as the party faces several electoral and organizational challenges.

A man of vast organizational and administrative experience, Kharge entered the electoral fray for the party’s top post after Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot opted against contesting.

Kharge, 80, was seen as the “establishment’s candidate” against Shashi Tharoor and polled 7,897 votes against 1072 received by his rival.

A leader who has risen from the grassroots, Kharge belongs to the Dalit community and will be the second leader from Karnataka to hold the top party post after S Nijalingappa became the Congress president in 1968.

In over five decades of experience in active politics, Kharge has been a union minister, and Congress leader in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and has held several portfolios in Karnataka where he was MLA nine times.

A combative, articulate, and accessible politician who is comfortable both in Hindi and English, Kharge has been a strong critic of the BJP-led government.

He faces major challenges to work out strategies in terms of Congress revival in the Hindi heartland states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar as also in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. The Congress has seen an erosion in its base in some other states including in the northeast. AAP is also seeking to emerge as a challenger in some states.

While Kharge’s immediate challenges are the assembly polls in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat which will go the polls later this year, several other states including his home state Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Rajasthan will go the polls next year before the crucial battle in the 2024 general election.

Many senior party leaders have left Congress in recent months and years and the Congress debacle in Punjab and Uttarakhand assembly polls earlier this year has been blamed on the choices party leadership made in these states.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who is on Bharat Jodo Yatra, indicated that Kharge will decide his role.

Kharge will take over as party chief from Sonia Gandhi, who was serving as interim chief after Rahul Gandhi stepped down following the party’s debacle in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Sonia Gandhi had earlier steered the party for 19 years and played a pivotal role in the formation of two UPA governments.

A former union minister of Labour and Railways, Kharge resigned as Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha to contest the presidential polls in accordance with the one person, one post norm.

Born on July 21, 1942, Kharge was active in student politics and was general secretary 1964-65 of the Students Union in Government Arts and Science College in Gulbarga.

He was vice president of the Students Union Law College, Gulbarga, in 1966-67 and became president of the Gulbarga City Congress Committee in 1969.

Kharge served as MLA in Karnataka nine times between 1972 and 2009 and held several portfolios as minister including education, revenue, rural development, and large and medium industry, transport, and water resources.

He was president of the Karnataka Congress from 2005 to 2008 and also served as Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly from 1996-99 and from 2008-09.

He was elected to Lok Sabha in 2009 and 2014 and elected to Rajya Sabha in 2020. As Leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha, he raised various issues vociferously.

Kharge was seen as a top contender for the CM post in Karnataka several times but never got the role. Kharge did not protest and continued to work as a disciplined party worker.

Congress leaders said Kharge will be the second Dalit president in the party’s long history.

Kharge is credited with several initiatives in his ministerial tenures. As Union Minister, he revamped the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana, extended insurance and benefits for workers in both organized and unorganized sectors, and ESIC hospitals throughout the country were modernized.

As Railway Minister, he gave emphasis on funding projects in the northeastern states in the railway budget and initiated reforms such as the creation of the Rail Tariff Regulatory Authority.

With Kharge’s election as the new party chief, the Congress will seek to blunt the BJP’s attack on it over “family-oriented politics”. (ANI)

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